Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Too Dang Hot!

This heat is brutal, with mid- to upper 90s day after day after livelong day. Although I water them obsessively, my hanging baskets of flowers wouldn’t look out of place surrounded by sand, cacti, and dried longhorn cattle skulls. The short walk over black parking lot to the grocery store feels like a stroll through the fires of hell. Health-walking is best done prior to 8 A.M., lest you dehydrate.

It’s too dang hot!

Yes, I know I live in South Carolina. And I know it’s summer. And yeah, yeah, if I hate heat so much, why did I ever leave Michigan? Oh, stop. You’re getting on my last nerve, which means you’re too dang close, especially in this heat. No one should have to suffer this heat day after day, especially the girl who used to get heat rashes in Michigan.

If you’re sitting in the bow of a fast-moving boat, cutting across a beautiful lake, an ice-cold bottle of water in hand, with huge dollops of sun screen rubbed into your exposed parts, the heat can be tolerated. If, however, you’re grilling over hardwood charcoal on your South-facing patio, or taking a walk, or experiencing the 3:30 P.M. Farmer’s Market in town, it’s too hot. I can’t imagine how the workers building a house down the street manage. I should go over and turn the water hose on them—they’d probably erect a shrine in my honor.

Maybe I’ll go turn the hose on myself. The shrine-erecting can come after. Possibly in October.

Monday, June 14, 2010


If you walked into my house, you would think I was obsessively tidy. You would be wrong. There are pockets of chaos in my life—mostly to do with the written word. Too many books, too many articles torn out of magazines, too many recipes clipped or printed from the internet… Periodically I have to go through and sort, file and purge so that I can breathe again.

I have a lot of stuff. Every kitchen drawer and cabinet—except the one above the fridge, now that I think about it—is stuffed. I use most of my kitchen items regularly. But I realized recently that I even hang on to stuff I don’t like and don’t have a need for.

An example? Tarragon, an herb. I can’t stand the stuff. But brilliant me kept it in an overcrowded spice cabinet until I forgot how much I hated it, and last week I ruined some chicken salad (new recipe) with it.

So the tarragon is gone now, and the sesame seeds and thyme sit a little closer together in the turntable. (Shut up. It’s not obsessive to alphabetize spices. It’s practical.) And I am eyeing a few other things in my house that are no longer needed and I don’t even like. No, John, I’m not talking about you.

My brain gets cluttered, too. I’m an emotional person and have many loved ones in my life. Sometimes I get caught up in their pain and chaos, and I worry too much. So then I need to sort, file and purge. And breathe.

The next time you walk into my house you probably won’t notice a difference, but underneath I may have made a bit of a difference. In my house clutter, too.
What about you? Are you a clutterer? Ready to purge?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vacation Brain

Recently I went on a vacation, a true vacation, not the annual grueling trip to our birthplaces, where we stay in other people’s homes whether they have room for us or not, and spend half of the trip in the car. No, this was a vacation. Beautiful rental house two blocks from the ocean beach, next to the pool, two blocks from restaurants, shops, free music nightly and an ice cream shop.


My life consisted of reading, hanging out on the beach, going to the pool, and usually going out to dinner. The hardest decision was when to shower; were we going to the pool or ocean in a minute? Shower before or after?

Before we left for Hilton Head Island, SC, I had visions of spending hours writing. I would have nothing but time, right? And I did write, some. But if I wasn’t in or near the water, I wanted to relax and read.

Vacation brain. I’ve only “suffered” from it a few times. As I mentioned, many of our vacations are spent driving 700+ miles to Michigan, then driving all over the state to visit family and friends and attend a reunion, then driving back home. It’s a blast, if exhausting, but there’s not much time to fully relax or to write. One summer I was so determined to keep writing, I wrote on a yellow legal pad in the car. And no, I wasn’t driving.

Vacation brain is the absence of worries, a calm, orderly, beautiful life, doing only what you want to do. In real life I don’t have a job to rush back to anymore, but I have a house, laundry, groceries to buy, children and grandchildren to cook for and spend time with, volunteer work, extended family concerns, friends, church, and writing. The first day back, I felt overwhelmed.

Ah, well, life is life and vacation is vacation. Time to get back to my real world and the fictional world of my novel, and neither of them are bad places to be. But oh, vacation brain—it’s a wonderful place.

Where is your wonderful place? Where do you go to experience “vacation brain?”